The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews by clicking on the Books category link on the far right sidebar.
Best-Selling author J.A. Jance has written her 50th novel, Moving Target. It features the character Ali Reynolds and her supporting cast: fiancé and computer expert B. Simpson, longtime gay household assistant, Leland Brooks, and good friend, Taser carrying nun, Sister Anselm. It also introduces a powerful character, Lance Tucker, a talented teenage computer hacker.
This book involves two plotlines that take place in Arizona, Texas, and England. Although the plots are basically unrelated Jance is able to weave them together through Ali and B’s relationship. The first plot explores Leland’s background, why his parents supposedly disowned him for being gay, and a cold case that Ali helps to solve involving Leland’s family. This plot is wrapped up mid-way through the book, which allows readers to concentrate on the very suspenseful plot that explores online research. This is where Jance introduces the character Lance Tucker, an incarcerated juvenile offender for hacking into the San Leandro School District’s Computer system. While setting up Christmas decorations in the lockup rec room he is severely burned. Because B. Simpson’s testimony helped to find Lance guilty he now feels bad and is obliged to get to the bottom of what really happened to Lance. Simpson, the founder of the high-tech security company High Noon Enterprises, elicits the help of Ali and Sister Anselm, and is determined to hire Lance for his GHOST program. It is a revolutionary computer software that allows users to surf any part of the web completely undetected.
Jance commented to blackfive.net about some of her characters, “Although I made Leland gay he is a person who is gay, not a gay person. His homosexuality does not define who he is or is not. He is a wonderful person who has a true blue nature. I made sure his gayness did not get into people’s faces. It’s a telling story of one character that happens to be gay.”
Regarding newcomer Tucker, “Lance is a great character that will be in future books. I cannot have a character like that show up and then drop him. Basically this was a story about people where I intentionally compared the two character’s families. One family was very supportive with unconditional love while the other family was not very supportive.”
She gave a heads up about her next few books, or as she calls them “books 51.4.” Due out this July will be a Johanna Brady book where readers will find out what happened to her dog Tigger, based on the Winnie the Pooh character. Jance is currently working on her next Ali Reynolds book. It takes place in Minnesota during the wintertime, and has a plot that delves into certain religious cults treatment of women.
Jance explained why she always includes some form of discrimination against women in all of her books. “I was a feminist that was not allowed into the University of Arizona’s creative writing program because I was a woman. Although today in looking back I think the early day feminists lost their sense of humor and never got it back. I enjoy writing about things I really care about and what is important to me. In Moving Target I put that scene in where a character was barred from being accepted into Oxford by an all male admissions board. I had her hiring only women for the lab and loved the line, ‘Payback is a bitch.’”
Moving Target has a fast paced plot with very likeable and sympathetic characters. Through a riveting plot it explores the technological world while also allowing readers to get to know the human side behind the characters.